Podcast: Gender targets – friend or foe?

Officials from the ECB explain why gender targets, though controversial, are necessary to close the gender gap at central banks
ECB offcials
Left to right: Ana Lamo, principal economist, and Anne-Sylvie Catherin, director-general human resources
European Central Bank

Next year will be a big year for the European Central Bank.

Mario Draghi will end his tenure as president of the central bank. It is likely interest rates in the eurozone will begin to rise. New €100 and €200 banknotes will enter into circulation. And, if the ECB hits its target, women should occupy 35% of the central bank’s management roles for the first time.

Like many central banks around the world, the ECB has been looking for ways to increase the number of women working within the institution, with a particular focus on senior management roles.

While the people who occupy the highest echelons of the central bank are chosen by political appointment, the ECB has worked to ensure it has levelled the playing field for positions lower down the chain.

In addition to providing unconscious bias training to staff, introducing a mentoring programme and increasing outreach to schools, the central bank also took the decision to implement gender targets in 2013. 

As of the end of 2017, 27% of management positions were held by women compared with an interim target of 29%. For the most senior management roles, the share was 17% against an interim target of 24%.

“The goal with these targets has been to sharpen our focus and sharpen our commitment,” Anne-Sylvie Catherin, director-general of the human resources department, says in the latest CB On Air Womenomics podcast. “I think they have served us well because by having them and by focusing on them we have made significant progress in several business areas.” 

Speaking alongside Catherin in episode 7 of the series, ECB principal economist Ana Lamo also presented her research, which assesses how effective the ECB’s measures to improve diversity have been.

Index

00:00 Introductions

01:02 Gender targets   

05:07 Reassuring male populus

06:02 Targeting for success

10:15 Importance of mentoring

14:20 Diversity for all

17:00 Small pipeline

20:24 Goals for 2019

To hear the full interview, listen in the player above, or download. CB On Air is also available via iTunes or podcast apps, and from Google Podcasts (Android only).

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